The first open Mosque for gays in Africa...

SOUTH Africa's first open mosque that accepts homosexuals and allows men and women to congregate together has opened its doors in Cape Town amid tight police security as a result of protests from Islamic hardliners.

Designed to portray an image of a new type of Islam that is open, tolerant and liberal, the mosque accepts gay worshippers, unveiled women and Christians among others.

It recently held its first prayer session with about 50 worshippers, during which men and women were allowed to share the same area. Mosque founder, Dr Taj Hargey, a director of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford and a popular hooligan of Islamic recalcitrance said it should herald a religious revolution in Cape Town.

In July this year, Dr Hargey launched the UK campaign to ban the burqa and as such is not used to criticism of his liberal philosophy.

At the opening of his Cape Town mosque, protesters chanted slogans like "You will go to hell.

However, he defied the critics, adding that there is a need to address the growing and deplorable hatred around the world between Muslims and Christians.

One protester said: "Mr Hargey has just made himself a target. He must realise and apologize to the Muslim community."

However, Dr Hargey said: "I blame this on warped theology from countries such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan which have given rise to fanatical groups like the Islamic State, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Contaminated Saudi money is being used to promote toxic and intolerant manifestations of Islam." A City of Cape Town councillor has already attempted to shut down the mosque under the pretence that it violates municipal by-laws by not having any parking spaces.

Dr Hargey vowed not to be intimidated by such people, however, adding that they have no right to threaten his mosque. "We have freedom of religion and expression in this country and no one has the right to tell anyone what to believe in.

This is a gender equal mosque, autonomous and independent and will remain so," Dr Hargey added.

In Islam, female imams do exist but the practice is not universally accepted and the issue remains controversial.

 In other matters like marriage, divorce, children, family law, inheritance etc, a great percentage of Muslim women around the world have very limited choices over their own lives and Dr Hargey's mosque is challenging this.

Like several other liberal theologians, he argues that the Muslim faith must accommodate societal changes across time.

However, fundamentalists disagree, preferring that religion preserve customs, rituals and daily life as they were practiced when the Prophet was still alive.

Credit: Dailyvoice